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Loose leaves or tea bags ?
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The quality of loose tea is premium and loose leaves undoubtedly produce the best-flavoured brew. Tea bags are so readily available now that it’s hard to believe they were introduced only just over a century ago, in 1908, in New York. The little silk pouches were originally made as tea samplers and were a quick and easy way of making a cup of tea. From silk came gauze bags and eventually paper. The bags also became a more compact size so they were easier to package and they were filled with fannings, or dust (a smaller grade of tea) to fill them, for a quicker brew.

The reason for the difference in quality is that the size of the bag restricts the size of the leaf and therefore tea bags lack the same complexity of flavour as loose-leaf tea. Despite this, the British public’s appetite for tea bags was such that by the 1960s Fortnum’s began to sell its own variety of quality tea bags. Today, approximately 97 % of the tea sold in the UK is in the form of tea bags, although, conversely, at Fortnum & Mason 70 percent of the tea sold is loose leaf. To keep any type of tea at its best, whether it’s loose or in bags, store it in an airtight container at room temperature.

Loose leaves or tea bags ?

In the 1930s Fortnum’s water analysis service worked wonders in identifying the perfect blend for local water.

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